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homage to mummenschanz

 It’s the 1970s. You’re at home watching the Muppets, or maybe the local PBS affiliate, and then BAM! These completely strange dudes show up on your TV and start this weird mime show. With toilet paper. And play doh. Unlike most mime, it’s not lame. It’s kind of enchanting, and witty, and elegant, and highly cerebral. Your eight year old brain has now been rocked… by the Swiss theater group Mummenchanz (Masquerade). 

Part mime, street theater, conceptual art, and modern dance, a typical Mummenschanz show has a troop of actors silently act out plays in rather clever ways. Sometimes, the actors wear moldable clay masks. Actors literally shape their faces as the skit develops. Other times, the masks are made of household items, like toilet paper rolls or suitcases, that allow the masks to interlock. “Drawing” on other actors with sticky felt is another good one. My favorites are the giant willowy tubes rambling across the stage, like ocean kelp.

toilet_mummIf you haven’t seen them in action, there’s a bit on youtube. Show ’em to the kids, they’ll love ’em:

Email me if you find a clip of the giant tubes moveing about. Can’t get enough of them.

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Written by fabiorojas

November 16, 2008 at 3:21 am

3 Responses

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  1. Ah, Fabio, you know how to bring back the memories! Saw ’em live in NYC back in 1976 or 1977. Was just a young lad in those days, not the grizzled veteran you know today. I remember being confused as hell during the first half of the show then, after my Mom explained what was going on during the intermission, enjoying the rest. Still, seeing Star Wars in 70mm at the Astor Plaza in Manhattan was a better highlight for ’77.

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    Peter Klein

    November 16, 2008 at 6:11 am

  2. Of course, Peter. Wookies trump toilet paper any day. But, you may ask, who looks better 30 years later: George Lucas or Mummenschazn?

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    fabiorojas

    November 16, 2008 at 10:27 pm

  3. I am determined to be a toilet paper head. I first saw them on 3-2-1 Contact in the 80’s. Found this in my quest for Mummenschanz:

    http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNzUzNjcwMTI=.html?full=true#full

    http://www.tv.com/3-2-1-contact/communication-human-communication/episode/293519/recap.html?tag=episode_header;recap

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    Nick

    September 13, 2009 at 11:19 pm


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